PH, Australia hold joint maritime exercises

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.

November 10, 2017, 5:38 pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The Philippine Navy (PN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) are holding a 21-day joint maritime exercises as the two countries strengthened defense cooperation to address threats by global terrorism.

The PN-RAN Maritime Security Engagement kicked off on Friday and ends on December 1. It will be held along the area of responsibility (AOR) of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM).

The kickoff ceremony was highlighted by the arrival of Australia’s HMAS Larrakia (ACPB-84) and HMAS Maitland (ACPB-88), both Armidale Class Patrol Boats of RAN, in this city.

Rear Adm. Rene Medina, NFWM commander, disclosed the joint maritime exercises will be held in high risk areas within the AOR of his command.

Medina said the high risk areas are the Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi; waters of Pangutaran, Sulu; the sea lane from Basilan up to the Moro Gulf; and the waters in Sibuco, Sirawai, Siocon and Baliguian in Zamboanga del Norte.

“This is likewise in support to the anti-terrorism and piracy campaign of the government,” Medina said.

Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely said the joint maritime security operation is a part of the enhanced Philippines-Australia defense cooperation, which was recently agreed by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne.

“Australia and the Philippines have a shared responsibility in combating the threats post by global terrorism,” Gorely said.

Medina said four vessels of the NFWM’s Naval Task Force 61 will join the maritime exercises. These are the following: BRP-Davao del Sur (LD-602); BRP-Dioscoro Papa (PC-381); BRP-General Mariano Alvarez (PS-28); and, BRP-Emilio Liwanag (PC-118).

HMAS Larrakia and HMAS Maitland, skippered by Commander Mitchell Edwards and Lieutenant Jonathon Little, respectively, are the vessels from RAN that will join the join exercises.

Medina said the 21-day activity is a follow-up to the successfully held Passing Exercises (PASSEX) and Communications and Electronics Exercise (COMMELEX) from September 22 to 25 in the Sulu Sea.

The BRP-Ramon Alcaraz, one of PN’s frigates, participated in the two events, with HMAS Parramatta as the counterpart from the RAN.

“This upholds the strong relationship of the PN and RAN when it comes to maritime patrol and security,” Medina said. (PNA)